CRYSTAL LAKE, Ill. (CBS) — Theo was a rescue mutt who captured our hearts as he went viral with a bucket list.
He died last week while we were putting together this story. Six months after we introduced Theo to you and he went from forsaken to triumphant, he had a final gift.READ MORE: Mayor Lightfoot Delays General Iron Permit To Move To South Side Over EPA Concerns
Theo’s human foster mom, Jenny Leech, got kissed by karma with a special gift delivery not long ago, shortly before Theo passed away. But we’ll get to that later.
First, the back story.
Before everyone fell in love with Theo, and before we did at CBS 2, Jenny Leech and her husband Scott did.
“I just thought maybe he’d have a good couple weeks or something like that,” Jenny said.
Jenny and Scott Leech met in high school – which means they’ve known each other for a while, as Jenny is 53. And they’ve got a thing for rescuing dogs.
And they’re not puppies, or Westminster winners – plainly.
“We do Sunday Funday. It’s usually a s**t show,” Jenny Leech said.
But then came Theo. We first told you about him in July after Edwards received an email from the Leeches.
At the time, we provided Jenny and Brad Leech’s email for anyone who could help with Theo’s bucket list, which at the time included a boat ride, a fire station visit, and to go on a play date.
“Once you did the first thing, it was like crazy after that,” Jenny Leech told Edwards.
She said they got emails from India, Australia, New Zealand, and Germany.
Theo, as the Leeches named him, was brought to Joliet Township Animal Control after supposedly being abandoned in a Joliet Walmart parking lot. Jenny got wind and picked him up.
The first stop was a bath. And Theo also knew just the toy he wanted. He went on a boat ride thanks to Lavins in Wonder Lake. He also met a pony – or maybe a unicorn – in McHenry, and got a tour of a fire station.
For a play date, Theo had a blind date picnic with a German shepherd. He had a birthday party too, and much, much more.
When Theo and his bucket list became a sensation, someone else got wind. That someone was artist Cheryl Cook, whom we call Cookie.
“Just goes to show you how good people can be,” Cookie said of the Leeches.
Cookie had a quiver in her voice and a quill in her hand.
“I’d really like to do something,” she said. “And the one thing I do all the time is paint and draw.”
And she would, for super mom Jenny.
“It actually grew, and it’s giving,” Cookie said. “It’s giving. It’s so beautiful.”
Cookie is known for capturing moments in history firsthand, often in the courtroom. She drew former Gov. Rod Blagojevich on a gloating former Gov. George Ryan, both before they were sentenced to extended stays at club fed.READ MORE: Chicago Night Clubs Gear Up For Looser COVID-19 Restrictions As State Prepares To Enter Bridge Phase
Cookie’s feverishly fast finesse also produced sketches of Denny Hastert – U.S. House Speaker turned sex-rumpled shame, and Kevin Trudeau, one of the infomercial kings.
In 2014, Trudeau was sentenced to 10 years in prison for criminal contempt, after he violated a court order not to lie in informercials.
“He got permission from one of the marshals to talk to me, and he wanted to purchase the sketches I had done of him,” Cookie said. “It came from a bank account not in the United States.”
Trudeau is on ice until 2022, but he got his sketches, and Cookie wasn’t conned.
But back to Theo.
“It’s pretty remarkable what these guys did in regards to saving that poor puppy,” Cookie said.
We learned that Theo was not really dumped in a parking lot after all. His dad simply gave the sick dog up.
And then in one strange development, Theo had become so famous that the dad’s son – away at college – thought that viral rescue dog Theo might be his old dog.
And they reunited to say goodbye.
That story was a tearjerker for many.
“I’m crying,” Cookie said. “I cry every time I see it.”
So Cookie put to canvas a gift for super mom Jenny Leech. Super mom said it should go to Theo’s savior, the Live Like Roo Foundation, which put it up for auction.
She thought maybe it would fetch a couple hundred bucks. Carlene Pittman bought it for $1,000, and brought it home, back to the Leeches.
We were there when it happened. To put it mildly, Jenny was overjoyed when Pittman arrived and surprised her with the portrait.
“You know, I was just looking at the picture online, and every time I look at it, it captures him so beautifully,” Jenny said. “It’s, it’s him.”
But no one captured Theo as beautifully as Jenny Leech herself.
She took a dog at death’s door,
Opened her door,
And gave him more.
Her good karma paid off as Pittman helped the foundation that saved Theo and brought over Cookie’s portrait. They stood it on the lawn right next to the real Theo.
Theo was a good boy. And a week later, he went home.MORE NEWS: Saint Joseph Catholic School Principal On Administrative Duty After Former Teacher Charged With Child Sex Crimes
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